Beautiful nonfiction app Bats! Furry Fliers of the Night (Bookerella and Story Worldwide, 2012) introduces primary and intermediate users to the world’s only flying mammal.
Author Mary Kay Carson — whose many nonfiction print books for children include 2010 Scientists in the Field title The Bat Scientists — presents accessible information in seven brief chapters covering bat physiology, diverse bat species, habitats, roosting behaviors, colonies, and echolocation. Crisp close-up photographs supplement the text and realistic digital illustrations. Several pop-up windows per chapter explore these topics in more depth.
Interactive elements are gracefully integrated. Some chapters advance with vertical (in addition to or instead of horizontal) swipes, allowing users to follow the bats into the air. In a seek-and-find activity, users look for bats in their habitats; when each bat is located and tapped, a pop-up window identifies its species and offers a bit of trivia about it. In the “Bats of Many Kinds” chapter, users spin a wheel to select a bat’s photo to pull up its brief profile.
Another feature inviting users to record their own echolocation sounds is a great idea; unfortunately, I couldn’t get this feature to work on our iPad. The app concludes with an opportunity for users to direct a bat’s flight over the landscape.
Navigating through the app is simple, with all chapters accessible from the main menu. Subtle glowing dots indicate where to tap for interactive elements and quick tutorials introduce activities and changes in page-turn direction. (These tutorials may get a bit tiresome on repeat viewings, however.) The personable narration and sound effects may be turned on or off from the main menu.
Given the impressive production values and thoughtful design of Bats!, I’m looking forward to exploring Bookerella/Story Worldwide’s app series for middle graders — and their projects still to come.
Available for iPad (requires iOS 4.0 and up); $2.99. Recommended for primary and intermediate users.